The NBA commissioner is looking to Twitch to influence future broadcasts

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For a number of years, esports broadcasts on Twitch TV and other sites have tried their best to replicate many aspects of sports broadcasting. It’s no surprise, really, since sports broadcasting has remained the same for almost three decades. It’s a tried and tested system which works. Twitch, not being a professional network, did leave room for personalities to flourish while having direct contact with their fans via Twitch Chat and viewership is high 24/7.

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Looking at how Twitch and esports broadcasts have evolved over the past few years – from replicating sports to finding their own path – it’s no surprise that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is now looking to Twitch and esports for influence on future NBA Broadcasts. During his speech at Recode’s Code Commerce in New York, Silver mentioned how making sports broadcasts more like Twtich streams could help grow audiences. The obvious realization here is that digital trends need to be followed if these age-old industries wish to maintain their hold on sporting entertainment as online platforms continue to rise in viewership.

“If you think about Twitch, for example, and see what it’s like to follow those competitions, it’s constant chatter of fans and there’s all kinds of other information appearing on the screen,” Silver mentioned in his speech.

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It’s understood that a lot of these inserts and pop-ups on the screen come straight out of sporting broadcasts. These can be stats, player bios, etc. The addition, which comes from esports, is overlays of sponsors and other information between rounds such as statistics relating to the game. The fans chatter is the biggest pull, understandably, as it removed the divide between direct contact with the broadcaster and fans. There’s also the fact that esports players, compared to professional athletes, seem to have a much more open relationship with their fans and some of the broadcast in their own time interacting with fans and viewers.

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The downside, according to Silver, is  “To a lot of older consumers used to looking at sports, it might look incredibly cluttered.” This is true, and often some tournaments do flood the screen with adverts, overlays, sponsors, and such. This could create an uncomfortable viewing experience for older fans, but it seems as though something has to change if sporting brands with to keep growing their viewership.

At the core of Silver’s statement, the NBA and other sporting franchises need to look towards the digital future of their events. Creating fan interaction and ease of information is something which is not readily available from the satellite and cable companies who provide the broadcasts. The push, currently, is for online technology offered by companies like Facebook and Amazon who are thriving in the digital front.

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Last Updated: September 15, 2017

Kyle Wolmarans

Critical Hit's esports guy. I talk about esports and drink whiskey. I also write and cast for elsewhere - but my work here is independent of that.

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